Will UAE employers offer flexible work contracts to parents?

Organisations that adopt a people-first culture will attract the best talent

Many companies have introduced practices such as hybrid working and flexible hours to promote employee well-being. Alamy
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In the UK, Amazon has launched flexible contracts for full-time staff, which will allow parents and carers of young children to work during the school term only, giving them more time with their families.

The contracts will guarantee time off during school holidays without affecting workers’ other benefits.

Will UAE employers start adopting similar strategies to help their employees?

With the summer months around the corner, employees with children in the UAE will be making plans for July and August, when temperatures soar and children are on holiday.

Many families living here that have relocated from other countries will want to return home during this time, but not everyone will have the flexibility to do so.

Life is very different in the Middle East, with many families having the luxury of full-time help at home through a live-in nanny. However, grandparents and members of their extended families back home will want to spend time with the children, too.

Born and raised in the UK, I was lucky to have my grandmother visit or take me away during the summer holidays and I try to make sure my children also have the same experience.

I will be spending six weeks in the UK this summer, splitting my time between family holidays and working remotely and know many others who will be doing the same.

One thing that we learnt after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 is that remote working is now more acceptable.

Many, including myself, have enjoyed being back in the office but having work from home forced upon me, I have learnt to adapt and can still be productive when not at my desk.

Although I enjoy being in the office most of the time, I also enjoy travelling, especially during the summer months.

Our company has offices in the UK and South Africa where we can work from, but not everyone is that lucky.

For some, it is simply not feasible to work from home – those in the medical, construction or hospitality sectors, for example. These are some industries where flexible work contracts would be highly beneficial for employees with children.

There are certainly areas of opportunity for employers to introduce more flexible work contracts.

We have already seen positive changes in the workplace in the UAE, with more focus on employee well-being.

The question is: Will employers in the UAE and the wider region start to adapt to allow more parents to take time off during school holidays?

Although there have been many redundancies in the technology sector earlier this year among some large multinational companies, there is still a huge demand for talent here.

We are still seeing growth in the hiring of highly skilled technology professionals, many of who are being hired from abroad.

Where there is competition for these skill sets, organisations that offer better conditions with policies such as flexible working will be highly attractive to potential candidates with families.

A good salary is obviously important, but money is not the be all and end all in today’s job market.

Watch: Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Many companies have already taken positive steps to put in place a “people first” culture, with practices such as hybrid working, work from anywhere and flexible hours becoming more widespread.

In some cases, a few employers have taken this a step further by offering staff an unlimited holiday allowance.

There is certainly scope for more employers to further improve their working conditions.

In my recruitment career spanning more than 20 years, I have seen a lot of changes in the workplace and am looking forward to many more forward-thinking policies.

The UAE government will continue to further develop and improve life for its residents, in line with its 2031 vision. This will, no doubt, accommodate better working conditions for all.

Organisations that are early adopters of more flexible working conditions will reap the rewards of attracting the best talent.

John Armstrong is founder and managing director of JCA Associates

Updated: June 09, 2023, 4:00 AM